Let’s discover together those Hanukkah-traditions that make this Jewish holiday-of-lights so special and worth celebrating with all the joy and cheer so prevalent at Christmas.
The Story of the Maccabim
Growing up in Israel, the story of the Maccabim became a favorite part of our Hanukkah-traditions. Just as Christmas celebrates an event far back in time, so Hanukkah celebrates acts of courage and a miracle of light. Children will sit with bated breath to listen to the story of the Maccabim if you become a storyteller as part of your Hanukkah-traditions.
Tell them the story of the brave young Maccabim who fought the evil king, although they were small in number and had hardly any weapons. And tell them about the miracle of the lamp that stayed lit for days, although the oil should have run out long, long ago. Children love the stories of super heroes.
Make the story of fighting for what you love the center of your Hanukkah-traditions, whether you are religious or celebrating Hanukkah in honor of your Jewish heritage. Read more of the story-of-Hanukkah from Hebraic Heritage Newsgroup.
Sufganiyot and Levivot
At the heart of every holiday celebration lie the special treats that make the holiday so memorable. And Hanukkah can easily compete with Christmas turkey, when you bring out those luscious, jam stuffed Sufganiyot. Don’t make the simple ones that you just fry and be done.
Make yeast Sufganiyot. Leave them to rise for 3 hours, with the kids wondering when, oh when, will they rise high enough. Keep the kids beside you as you fry the Sufganiyot and let them squeeze the jam inside and sprinkle the sugar on top. (Here are wonderful Hanukkah-recipes from Chabad.)
When you make potato pancakes don’t call them by this drab, boring name. Make it a Hanukkah-tradition to call Hanukkah-foods by their Israeli name. Don’t even call potato pancakes Latkes. No, indeed. Call them Levivot, from the Jewish word: Lev (heart). Because Hanukkah-foods come from the heart and will fill your home with warmth and joy.
Hanukkiya (Menorah) and Nerrot (Candles)
No other Hanukkah tradition is as important, as magnificent, as beautiful as the lighting of holiday candles. Yes, the Hanukkiya can compare with the glitter of a Christmas trees! It’s up to you to make it so. Invite each child to buy his own menorah.
Make it a special trip to a Jewish store. Each kid can find that special Hanukkiya that reflects his personality. And let the kids choose their colorful Hanukkah candles. Make the lighting of Hanukkah candles a longed for, looked for, dreamed about moment. Here’s my article on where to find the best menorah & Hanukkah candles.
Christmas carols can be heard everywhere during the holiday season. In your home, make it a Hanukkah tradition for Hanukkah-songs to fill your living room with the spirit of this Jewish holiday. Don’t buy Hanukkah CD’s for children only. No, indeed.
Look for musical orchestrations ideal for the holiday, so that adults can enjoy listening to Hanukkah music the whole evening long. Here’s my article on where to find Hanukkah-songs, lyrics and music to fill your evenings with holiday joy.
Oh, what a wonderful Hanukkah tradition ma’ot Hanukkah make. It’s a time when we share our happiness with the less fortunate, because we want to make happiness infectious. And so it is that adults share Ma’ot with children. By all means, do give children the chocolate covered coins, just so they have something to play with and carry around and feel delighted with. But also give them pocket money, but not in notes. Oh, no.
Give Ma’ot Hanukkah as they once were given, a Hanukkah tradition well-worth preserving. At the bank, get Dollar coins and so give children their Ma’ot Hanukkah in beautiful, shiny Dollar coins or Euros.
Hanukkah Crafts and Decorations
The spirit of any holiday is in the things that awaken a sense of joy. In light, song and holiday scents we find our best Hanukkah traditions. Decorate your home with Hanukkah-crafts that children can make themselves, just to feel that they are taking part in dressing up the home for the holiday. Make glittering menorahs to decorate your windows. Here are my 10 Hanukkah-crafts that you can make to decorate your home.
Buy Hanukkah decorations to light up your yard, just as your neighbors light up theirs with Christmas reindeer. Invite children to play Hanukkah games online or print Hanukkah coloring-pages for them. Hanukkah traditions are made with laughter and games.
Here’s my article on where to find Hanukkah-coloring-pages and games for kids.
We may not have many toys associated with Hanukkah traditions, but oh how wonderful the Dreidel is. How well worth celebrating. First of all, make it a Hanukkah tradition to decorate your home with homemade Dreidel decorations (here my article on Hanukkah-decorations-with-dreidels.
Next, be sure to buy the kids some cheap-dreidels that you can play with without worrying about breaking or damaging them. Here’s my article on where to buy all sorts of Hanukkah-gifts, dreidels included.
Invent Hanukkah Games
My family’s Hanukkah traditions were invented with time. As kids we would sing Sevivon Sov Sov Sov (spin Dreidel, spin) and we would spin and spin as we sang until we got too dizzy to stand.
Using simple wooden dreidels, we would have Dreidel spinning competitions to see whose Dreidel span the longest, and we would use our gilded chocolate Hanukkah coins for trading.
We would take time carefully sorting the candles we would use for our Hanukkiyas (menorahs), and as the days of the holiday rolled by the task became all the more inviting, until we would have 8 candles to choose, on the last day of Hanukkah.
Singing Hanukkah-songs after we lit the menorah became a Hanukkah tradition we adored, because it would be a challenge to see who would think of the next song to sing, then the next, and next, until we couldn’t stand waiting to eat our Sufganiyot anymore.
I hope my Hanukkah traditions fill you with ideas for your own. Happy Hanukkah!